Mark Kurlansky was born in Hartford, Connecticut. After receiving a BA in Theater from Butler University in 1970, and refusing to serve in the military, Kurlansky worked in New York as a playwright, having a number of off-off Broadway productions, and as a playwright-in-residence at Brooklyn College. He won the 1972 Earplay award for best radio play of the year.
He worked many other jobs including as a commercial fisherman, a dock worker, a paralegal, a cook, and a pastry chef.
In the mid 1970s, unhappy with the direction New York theater was taking, he turned to journalism, an early interest–he had been an editor on his high school newspaper. From 1976 to 1991 he worked as a foreign correspondent for The International Herald Tribune, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, The Philadelphia Inquirer. Based in Paris and then Mexico, he reported on Europe, West Africa, Southeast Asia, Central America, Latin America and the Caribbean.
He wrote his first book, A Continent of Islands, in 1992 and went on to write several books throughout the 1990s. His 1997 book Cod was an international bestseller and was translated into more than 15 languages. His work and contribution to Basque identity and culture was recognized in 2001 when the Society of Basque Studies in America named him to the Basque Hall of Fame. That same year he was awarded an honorary ambassadorship from the Basque government.
In addition to numerous guest lectures at Columbia University School of Journalism, Yale University, Colby College, Grinnell College, the University of Dayton and various other schools, he has taught a two week creative writing class in Assisi, Italy, a one week intensive non-fiction workshop in Devon, England for the Arvon Foundation, and has guest lectured all over the world on history, writing, environmental issues, and other subjects. In Spring 2007 he was the Harman writer-in-residence at Baruch College teaching a fourteen week honors course titled “Journalism and the Literary Imagination.” His books have been translated into twenty-five languages and he often illustrates them himself.
He has had 30 books published including fiction, nonfiction, and children's books.
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